212,000 people ‘beaten up for being on benefits’ after being demonised as scroungers
Devastating research reveals that four years of Tory-led war on the poor – and the recent TV series Benefits Street – have taken a terrible toll on the most vulnerable
September 8, 2014
By Susie Boniface
People on benefits have been beaten up, denied bank accounts and made homeless after being demonised as “scroungers”.
Devastating research reveals that four years of Tory-led war on the poor – and the recent TV series Benefits Street – have taken a terrible toll on the most vulnerable in society.
A YouGov survey shows:
Up to 212,000 have been physically attacked because they’re on benefits
6% say their children have been bullied at school because the family gets state aid
16% of claimants have been turned down for a home, and
11% have even been shunned by their own families
Now charities are calling on the Government to change its callous tone and stop trying to create a divisive battle between “workers and shirkers”.
Philipp Newis from the Who Benefits? campaign said: “We’ve heard a lot of negative talk from politicians about benefit claimants, even though these are people who might need support for all sorts of reasons.
“Around 4.3 million families receiving benefits are in work, but earning too little to get by.
“Many others are ill, caring for a loved one or have lost their job. It could happen to any one of us.”
Campaigners also claim Channel 4’s Benefits Street, “starring” White Dee and set in James Turner Street, Birmingham, has aggravated the problem.
The online survey of 2,352 claimants asked: “Have you ever been verbally or physically abused because you are on benefits?” – 15% said attacks were verbal, 4% said physical.
It was commissioned by a coalition of charities, including single parents group Gingerbread, homeless group Crisis, MIND and the Children’s Society.
Findings will go into a joint report claiming those on benefits are being treated as second-class citizens.
Case study 1
Andrea, 28, from the North East went on benefits when she was thrown out by an abusive husband with children aged 18 months and two months.
Private landlords simply refused to rent to her: “They thought people on benefits would trash the place.
“Eventually a domestic violence charity vouched for me.
“The public’s attitude is we’re all scroungers, not that we need help.
“Programmes like Benefits Street don’t help. It was the most desperate time of my life, I felt judged.”
Case study 2
Alison, 41, from East Midlands, quit nursing to care for daughter Sarah, four, who has severe genetic problems.
Her husband works, but has bi-polar disorder.
She gets carers’ allowance and tax credits and says she faces stigma: “People ask if you’re working, or remark about being a lady of leisure.
“I got Sarah into a special needs nursery and a family member said it was a school for people on benefits.
“It makes you ashamed to need help. People need to realise it can happen to any of us.”